Space And Habit Our Santa Fe Renovation Planning Ugly Bathroom Tile
Jan. 24, 2018

Our Santa Fe: Renovation Planning

Space And Habit Our Santa Fe Renovation Planning Ugly Bathroom Tile

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Last updated:
Sep. 7, 2022 @ 3:52 pm

Having recently purchased a new home in Arizona, we couldn’t wait to put our Chip and Jo hats on and start renovation planning (it’s demo day!). If you missed my recent post introducing the house, check it out! If you’re like “um no, Madison, that takes work”, I’ll recap: it’s a 1994 Santa Fe style home in rustic Arizona – super charming. The bones are amazing, the location perfect but the house is certainly out of date. Some things have not been touched in 25 years (yikes!). There are green toilets, walls that come in every color and a burgundy jetted tub and, yes, that tile in the picture above is real life). Needless to say, it’s a major work in progress and the Brady Bunch won’t be living there.

But, I’ve watched HGTV before and I’ve totally got this. Jokes. What we thought were a few “simple” updates are turning out to be a lot of small updates and a few VERY LARGE updates. While it’s been going well, it’s been a little daunting and I’ve almost lost my head once or twice (or three times). Read on below to get that real Kardashian drama that surfaced during our renovation planning.

Laying It All Out

The first question was, obviously, “umm….where do we start?”. I was like “bring in the camera crew and the workmen” but, naturally, I only received blank stares (almost as bad as the stares I got when we bought our condo and I asked the inspector if there was a support beam….). We decided to start with a list of the things we wanted to change in the house. We then categorized that list by room and prioritized each room and each item within that room (oh goodness, there’s my inner Monica from Friends again…). That list had a mere 125 items on it. From changing a switch plate to changing the layout of a bathroom, it was all on there. Here’s a screenshot of that hot mess (you can click to make it bigger!):

I wish I could toss my hair and say that we are dealing with endless budget over here. Sadly, we aren’t. So we had to make cuts, decide what we could wait on (in my mind, that is nothing…but compromise, Madison) and move forward with the most “critical” items (quotes because we aren’t saving lives here). This list really helped put our priorities in order and open our eyes to the true number of “simple” updates we wanted to make.

Watching Our Pennies

Alongside our list, we took careful measure to plan our expenses. We elected to start with a a few “easier” projects sprinkled with a few of the more daunting projects. We did that for a number of reasons. One, we were working with contractors that we liked, had good references (for most of them!) but had never worked with before. We wanted a chance to see their work take shape in our home before signing our lives over to them. Two, you read all the time about added expenses in renovation projects. You can and will find things that will change your course and you have to be able to take care of them when they arise (e.g. mold! Ewe!). It was important to factor in wiggle room for those extra costs. We became okay (are becoming okay) with going slower on our projects, making sure they were done well and that we could afford them.

Space And Habit Our Santa Fe Renovation Planning Outdated Bathroom

The burgundy bath tub in our master bathroom in all of it’s glory (eye roll)!


On budget I will also add this: things are WAY more expensive in real life then they are on HGTV. When Jo waves her wand and shouts out a price, she’s working some true magic. Keep in mind that she knows some people in some high places. Maybe you do. I’m a plebeian. While I am sure a lot depends on where you live, we are moving to Arizona where the cost of living is relatively low (grapes are $2.99 per bunch, not $2.99 per pound, after all) and we still experienced some sticker shock while shopping around for quotes (I know, grapes are grapes, counters are counters!).

Finding Our Team

After sorting out which of the million projects we actually wanted to work on and defining our budget, the next most difficult task was finding the people to work on them. How do you know if someone is going to be able to change all the outlets in your home effectively? Should I bring in two electricians and set up an obstacle course for them and gauge their performance? Probably not. We relied very heavily on two sources: neighbor referrals and online reviews. If you can make friends with your neighbors (we got lucky, ours are great!), do it and ask them whom they’ve worked with before. Our painters were referred to us and they have been by far the best people involved in this entire project. I mean, we’ve given them free access to our home while we’ve been in Boston without any worry. If you can’t get a referral for everything, then do some homework! We scoured Yelp, Home Advisor and any other source for quality reviews of contractors and made our selections that way. Don’t doubt the power of face-to-face communication. You can also tell a lot about someone by talking to them for the first time.

Side Note: There’s also this great app called Next Door that we discovered. It’s basically a neighborhood social platform where you can report lost/found dogs, weather, etc. A lot of people ask for contractor recommendations on the App and use it as a sort of review and recommendation platform. It’s super cool!

Plan for Delays, Imperfections and Challenges

Not to be a total pessimist, but you should definitely plan for some hurdles. A few of ours, you ask? Outlets that lead to nowhere, rotting drywall near a window and scorpions crawling through cracked flooring (Yes! It’s true!). But, more of that to come in the series. I am constantly needing to remind myself (and have Sky remind me) to stay calm and work through the inherent headaches of a renovation. Last week I had a slight breakdown and I lost my sh*t. Don’t worry, we made it through! Remembering to stay flexible is equally as as important as getting the job done. The original countertops we liked were hard to find but we found another that we loved even more (and they were cheaper!), our original stove for the kitchen wouldn’t fit our current counters but we saved some dough by going with another appliance brand – those conversations will come up but things will work out and things will get done. Just keep on keeping on and don’t lose your head (like I did).

Go With Your Gut

Lastly, don’t be afraid to go with what you feel. The right paint color, the right counters, the right electrician – whatever it may be. It’s your home and you know what you like so, explore your options, and go for it. You’ll also be shocked at how, once the quotes start coming in, a price tag can change your dreams of a certain look or material (I’ll talk about our bathroom tile later…). You’ll feel that pit in your stomach and you’ll make the right decision. Whether it’s going for it and putting another project on hold or changing the materials you’re using.

As we are discovering now, undertaking a home that needs a little TLC can be a lot. We decided to bite off a good chunk of the larger projects before we moved to limit the dust and debris that we were exposed to upon move in but, it’s different for everyone. Go at your own pace, be confident and remember that the outcome will be totally worth it in the end! Stay tuned for more updates on renovation planning for Our Santa Fe.


Space And Habit Our Santa Fe Renovation Planning Arizona Sunset

I’m just like, put me here with a glass of wine and I will be happy…


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